New directives have been issued to nurses at health centres and at the Gozo General Hospital.

Under the new directives, nurses at health centres will stop accompanying doctors at health centre clinics, stop vaccinations relating to travel and stop clerical work including answering the phone.

Those at the Gozo hopsital have been ordered not to assist at the dermatology, neuro, urology, DOP, SOP, paediatrics, ophthalmic, cardio, ENT, rheumatology, nephrology, and respiratory clinics.

They have also been ordered not to perform any pre-ops excluding confirmed oncology operations and paediatrics operations.

The new set of directives intensify industrial action embarked upon in the beginning of March issued by the nurses union that said it had been “humiliated” by the government's response to sectoral negotiations.

MUMN officials had presented health authorities with 37 pages of proposals some months back and the government had reverted with a two-page document with government negotiators saying there were “no extra financial resources” available for nurses and midwives.

On Tuesday morning, the nurses said that, 10 days after it had declared a dispute, the ministry made no extra effort to address the dispute and did not send any counter proposals to address the industrial actions.

“Instead, our “humble” government is resorting in threatening nurses and midwives who are following MUMN directives. Not only that, but the government resorted to outsource surgical operations thus delivering a clear message that it is prepared to spend the taxpayers' money on private contractors, who have close ties to the government, but is not prepared to offer a better financial package to the nurses and midwives,” the union argued.

The MUMN insisted that the last counter proposals send by the ministry showed that the government does not intend to address the nurses' shortage by investing in young nurses and midwives but is planning to bring more nurses from India, Pakistan or Africa through private local contractors.

It said it was also informed that the government cancelled Sunday operations even though these had not been affected by industrial action.

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